Rasa - Fauci, who's helping lead the US administration's pandemic response, told The Financial Times in an interview published Friday that he didn't know why Trump made the dangerous statement.
"I'm trying to figure out where the president got that number," Fauci said, adding, "What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1%. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99% is not a problem, when that's obviously not the case."
Trump has aggressively downplayed the threat posed by COVID-19 even as infections have surged across the Sun Belt and the West.
"There were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested over 40 million people. But by so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless," Trump stated in a speech last Saturday.
Overwhelming evidence of COVID-19's effects contradicts Trump's statement. Fauci stressed in The Financial Times interview that the virus is unpredictable and affects people very differently.
"I have never seen a virus or any pathogen that has such a broad range of manifestations," he stated, noting, "Even if it doesn't kill you, even if it doesn't put you in the hospital, it can make you seriously ill."
Fauci said that the president hadn't met with him since June 2 and that he hadn't briefed Trump in more than two months.
The White House has also reportedly blocked Fauci from doing TV interviews. Fauci suggested that might be because he tells truths the administration doesn't want the public to hear.
"I have a reputation, as you probably have figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things," he told The Financial Times, adding, "And that may be one of the reasons why I haven't been on television very much lately."
Fauci has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that the US is still "knee-deep" in the first wave of coronavirus infections and that many states and localities had made serious blunders in responding to outbreaks.
He told The Financial Times that the slope of the US's infection curve "still looks like it's exponential".